Saucy Chicken and Sausage over Creamy Parmesan Polenta – a true comfort meal if there ever was one. Delicious chicken and sausage in a spicy tomato sauce served over a creamy and cheesy polenta.
Let’s talk about polenta, my friends. Polenta is probably known more as an Italian dish that has become extremely popular in North America over the past few years, though Polenta is really popular in most of Europe and has been for a very long time. I grew up eating Polenta, it was a staple in our house. In Romania it’s known as “mamaliga“ and we really eat it with anything, in place of bread. It’s extremely popular to be served alongside cabbage rolls or any type of stew. Polenta is really served as a peasant food, a very inexpensive food made usually from 2 ingredients, cornmeal and water.
Growing up my mom always used to tell me that every woman should know how to make polenta and that any man who’d want to marry you would first want to make sure you can make it, otherwise he’d have to think twice about marrying you. Of course this is her old fashioned way of thinking, but nevertheless she taught me how to make it at a very young age. Polenta is usually made in big old heavy cast iron pots and for some reason polenta is the one dish whose difficulty is most overrated. My mom would agree here and say polenta is difficult to make because everybody thinks that it requires a lot of stirring and god forbid should you have any lumps in it. I beg to differ. Over the years I’ve made so much polenta that I came to realize that it’s really no big deal and quite easy to make.
We’ll talk more about polenta when I show you how to make it but for now I want to focus on this yummy saucy chicken and sausage stew. There’s nothing really that goes better with polenta than meat in some tomato sauce. To me this is the kind of comfort food that I grew up with. So here I just used some pork sausages, some chicken, onion and garlic. Pretty basic, but lots of flavor. You basically want to cook everything together for about 10 minutes or until the meat starts to brown a bit.
After about 10 minutes it should look like the picture below. If you’re using a Dutch oven pot like me, you’ll notice that the bottom almost looks burnt, and you might think you burnt it. But that’s what I was going for, because now you’re going to add some white wine, or chicken broth and scrape those brown bits really well, that’s where all the good flavor is.
Cook it for a couple more minutes, while making sure all the brown bits have been scraped and you can now also taste it and season accordingly. I seasoned it with some salt and pepper, and added some oregano.
You then can add your tomato sauce, I added some hot sauce for a bit of a kick and a bit of butter. Cook it for 5 more minutes and garnish with parsley. That’s about all there is to this simple dish. This goes well on pasta or rice, it doesn’t have to be only on polenta. And you can also add more veggies to it, like mushrooms would be a nice addition, or some bell peppers, or even peas.
Back to the polenta now. It’s really a pretty straightforward thing, it’s cornmeal and water. You don’t have to hover over the stove to make sure you stir it constantly and know the secret of the universe in order to make Polenta. Sorry mom, but it’s true. Your secret is out. Again I used a cast iron pot because they really are perfect for making polenta. You start out with a cup of cornmeal and a cup of water, and before you even turn the heat on just whisk it all together, this will ensure there will be no lumps. Then you can turn the heat on medium low and just wait. Go drink your coffee, or do some surfing on the internet, but just don’t hover over it.
You’ll notice it will start to thicken, so you will have to whisk it occasionally or rather when you add water. I add about a cup of water at a time, whisk and wait. In the end you will have to add about 4 to 4 1/2 cups of water in total to 1 cup of cornmeal. Don’t get fooled by it because every time the cornmeal absorbs the water you may want to think that it’s done, but it’s not really done, cornmeal takes a bit of time to cook, so the best thing to do is taste it and make sure it doesn’t taste raw.
After you’ve added all the water and it’s all been absorbed you’ll end up with a thick creamy polenta, and it should be thoroughly cooked. Now’s the time to add all the goodies to it and add some flavor. I added lots of Parmesan cheese, because I think we’ve established already how much I love it, a bit of butter and some black pepper. No need for salt since there’s plenty in the Parmesan cheese.
Stir it all in and that’s it. All that’s left to do is eat.
I like to serve this by plating a large serving of polenta on a plate and add the chicken and sausage over. Of course then I go and stir everything together and make a mess but it doesn’t matter how you eat it, you’ll love it. Of this I’m certain of.
If you guys love this recipe, and most importantly make it yourselves, please let us know. Take a picture and tag it #jocooks on Instagram so we can see it. I always love to see what you guys come up with!
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 6 oz chicken breast boneless and skinless, cut into small bite size pieces (about 1 breast)
- 2 links Italian sausage cut into 1 inch pieces
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp dry oregano
- 1/2 cup chicken broth low sodium or dry white wine
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp hot sauce (I used Frank's)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped for garnish
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 4 to 4 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
In a saucepan or a Dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes until the onion is soft and has become translucent. Add the chicken and sausage to the skillet, season with salt, pepper and oregano. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the chicken and sausage starts to brown.
Stir in the chicken broth or white wine and scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook for 2 minutes then add the tomato sauce and hot sauce. Stir in the butter and taste for seasoning. Adjust as necessary.
Cook for 5 more minutes, remove from heat and garnish with chopped parsley.
Add the cornmeal and 1 cup of water to a cast iron pot. Place the pot over medium to low heat and whisk. This will ensure there will be no lumps. Let the mixture come to a boil and you'll notice it will start to thicken as the cornmeal absorbs the water. Add another cup of water at a time, whisk and wait until the water has been absorbed. Repeat until you've used 4 to 4 1/2 cups of water and the cornmeal is cooked and doesn't taste raw. You will need to whisk occasionally but there's no need to hover over the pot while it's cooking.
Once the cornmeal is cooked through, remove from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.
Serve by plating polenta, then topping it with the chicken and sausage stew.
Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.